Tuesday, 2 June 2009


It's been a while, things have been rather chaotic with my Dad so I just don't seem to have had the energy to get online and write.
Dad lives alone and the only family here is my good self as his sister lives down in London, a few hours drive.
It got to the point when Dad was feeling terrible every single day, ringing me in a state of panic because he was absolutely terrified he was having another heart attack. At this point, I had to try and figure out - over the phone - if he was indeed having a heart attack and needed an ambulance or if that he just needed to calm down and stay home.

He'd ring me several times, every day, with chest pains. The absolute terror that you feel that you might be giving the wrong advice is something I can't even describe. It's life and death, but on one hand I know he desperately doesn't want to go back to hospital, but on the other hand knowing that he needs some help.
What the hell do you do?
In the space of around 10 days, Dad ended up being admitted to hospital four times.
The first three times he was sent home within a couple of days, but this last time they seem to have started some real investigation and he remains in hospital, having been there nearly a week now.
Honestly, I'm pleased, it keeps him calmer, he knows if he gets pain there is someone there, on hand to help him immediately.
The stress of those daily life or death calls has lifted.
I still have to find the time to get to the hospital to visit him and make sure he's got everything he needs, but that's so much easier than worrying about him being at home alone.
He said last week that he is petrified he will die alone in that flat.
I can't even imagine how that must be. Especially when you accompany that fear with daily severe chest pains, each time wondering what it means.

Over the weekend and beginning of last week I'd run flat, all of my personal little batteries were seemingly beyond repair and I was exhausted. That kind of tired when you start to cry over everything.
You've run out of washing up liquid. Tears.
You've just got out of the shower and realised your towel is in the bedroom. Tears.
The website you need to access won't work. Tears.
The bank balance isn't as much in the black as you'd like it to be. Tears.
You don't have any chocolate in the house. Tears.

My friend Harriet got married last Saturday and I was in charge of music. I'd made the CD, she and I had played it to make sure it was exactly right.
We all arrived at the castle where she was to be married, I was pointed in the direction of the sound system. After a bit of faffing around it was established that the machine did not like my home-made CD. I was about ready to degenerate into hysteria. Minutes later we decided that we'd change the CD into one of the other slots and see how that worked. Hurray, it started to play, except there was no sound and no visible volume control.

At this point, my mobile, which was on silent started buzzing atop the sound system. I looked, it was my Dad's sister, Rosemary. I checked the message, advising me Dad had been rushed into hospital. My head started to expand, I swear it, I just can't deal with that many thoughts.
Must fix music.
Must watch wedding.
Must ring hospital.
Must get to hospital.
Etc, etc, etc.

I finally got the music started, the wedding got underway, it was beautiful and it went off without any further hitches. I must ask permission to post a photo!
So, we all headed out, to meet up for a picnic at a huge reservoir nearby. All our cars were scattered around the small town and I was dropped off at mine, to head off to the picnic site on my own.
I rang the hospital first and was told in no uncertain terms by the nurse that answered that she was unable to answer a single question about my Dad's health as it was against policy, even if I was family. Christ, I just want to know if he's bloody dead or alive. At this point she deigned to say he'd seemed ok when she'd chatted to him before, but if I wanted to know more I'd have to go in. Bitch.

I then realise I have no memory of where the picnic is being held and how to get there. I drive around, getting gradually more lost and started to do that self-pitying weeping, desperately not wanting to interrupt the picnic with a phone call to admit I'm an idiot and am completely lost.
Harriet then rings to see if I'm ok and where am I. I confess to being lost, obtain better directions and make my way to where they're all parked. I sit in the car and cry. I can't even say why, because I feel foolish for being lost, because I'm so completely stressed about my Dad's health, because I don't want to cry on Harriet's day.
Bless her heart, Harriet comes over and tells me to go home, having spotted me and knowing I wouldn't want to join the picnic alone. This is why I love her.
I decline and stay, hoping no one will notice how terribly late I am, at which point her son Finlay turns to me and says "Stephanie, where WERE you?!" I think they noticed!

Post-picnic I make my way to the hospital, I find out how Dad is doing, make sure he's as settled and finally head home for the night.
As I drive up the hill towards home a squirrel sits by the roadside, he looks both ways and darts into the road, I've slowed and he sprints across in front of me with plenty of room, but runs straight into the oncoming car on the other side of the road. His little body is thrown into the air and I see him hit the ground with a thud.

It about broke my heart, I cried all the way home and I don't think I stopped for several days.

So, Dad still sits in the hospital, they're still not able to give a proper diagnosis as to what the pains are. The best they have been able to come up with is that he's becoming older, at 70 he has to expect he will have aches and pains and will have to live with them. Doesn't seem right or fair somehow, that they can't manage it better than that.

I think one of the hardest things is being so completely alone in it. As there's just me, no other family around to talk about it to, none of my friends have parents that are either of a similar age or alone and of that age. It's hard to appreciate how exhausting it is to be so very responsible for a parents wellbeing and solely responsible. I didn't expect it.
My heart goes out to everyone else in similar situations, it's a big old job.
But, with all that said, I'd rather Dad rang me every day and told me everything he's worried about than sit and be afraid on his own. That's much, much worse.

I'm also incredibly grateful to a couple of my friends who text or call me frequently to ask how I am and to ask after my Dad. I guess it's the circle, I'm there for Dad and my friends are there for me, knowing I'm there for them too.

I've had Mum staying too for a week so she's been cracking the whip and keeping me super busy, which is a pretty good thing. Stops you talking to yourself so much for sure!


Sleepydumpling said...

I just want to drop by and leave you a great big...


You have every right to feel overwhelmed at the moment, I know I would be!

Flibbertigibbet said...

Thank you! I can't even begin to tell you how very welcome that hug is!